By Edwin Muhumuza
15 complaints of Human Rights violation have been registered in Kampala, Wakiso and other parts of the country in the ongoing campaign.
According to the Human Rights Commission, the majority of them came in following the nationwide riots of 18th and 19th of November when security forces arrested presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi.
13 Cases involve violation to the right of life where people were shot and killed. Among others is the arrest of people who have been denied access to family, lawyers and medical care.
While addressing the media in Kampala, the Acting Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission, Katebalirwe Amooti , attributed the rights abuses to candidates as well as voters who have decided to defy the law in regard to upholding COVID-19 Standard Operating Procedures.
His remarks came on the eve of the commemoration of the Human Rights Day under the theme ‘building Back Better: Putting Human Rights at the Center of the COVID-19 Recovery.
The Director of Complaints, Investigations and Legal services, Ida Namaganda said that among the cases were those that included people who were shot directly and those that were shot by stray bullets and unfortunately lost their lives. She added that thirteen of them had their relatives log complaints.
‘Two of the complaints are alleging incommunicado detention amid refusal by security forces to permit access from family, lawyers and doctors.’
At the height of the crisis security forces were put on the spot over the murders and according to security Minister Elly Tumwine, Police in Uganda have a right to shoot protesters dead if they reach a ‘certain level of violence’.
According to the law and human rights standards, the police have a duty to keep law and order all the time and even during riotous situations.
However on 18th and 19th of November citizens were shot, some lost their lives and others got injured bringing into play the issue of excessive force which is also governed by certain principals.
‘The threat that is coming towards you as a law enforcement officer should be proportional to the force that you are using; were the people coming towards you using a gun? Was it necessary for you to use the force you used to bring back law and order?
In matters where we had citizens involved in acts of criminality where we saw beatings, robbing and undressing, was it necessary to use gunfire to quell the situation? Were their proclamations by commanders of operations that if you do not stop what you are doing we are going to resort to gunfire? Namaganda said.
So far there are ten cases undergoing treatment and rehabilitation at the African Center of Treatment and rehabilitation of Torture victims since the campaign period began according to Director of the center, Samuel Kiberu Nsubuga.